Professor Arthur Marwick compares the images and perceptions of class in France and Britain as presented by feature films in the two countries since the war. He argues that Britain developed a docu...mentary tradition in which class divisions were shown as a stabilising feature of society; although, since the mid-fifties the working class has been portrayed as increasingly independent. French film makers have concentrated more on the lower-middle class and any portrayal of the working class has tended to be formalised and intellectualised.
|Module code and title:
|A309, Conflict and stability in the development of modern Europe c.1789-1970
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|BBC Open University
|Cinema; Class systems; Feature films
|An extract from the 1952 British film The Brave Don't Cry is shown in which a group of trapped miners is observed. Over stills from the film Arthur Marwick comments on the way in which this working class community is depicted. A further extract from the film portrays the unity of the mining community - the local doctor and policeman help take the illegal bets of the trapped men. Over stills from the 1949 French film about women miners, Le Point du Jour, Marwick contrasts the French approach to working class life with the British. A brief sequence from the film is seen. Stills are shown from Jacques Becker's films Antoine et Antoinette and Edouard et Caroline, over which Marwick comments on the concern of French directors with the middle classes. He briefly outlines the plot of Edouard et Caroline. We see an extract from the film with English subtitles. Marwick comments on the kind of society being depicted. Over stills from the 1959 film 'I'm All Right, Jack' Marwick outlines the plot of the film and summarises its intentions. Two sequences from the film are seen. Over stills from Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Marwick comments on its realistic portrayal of working class life. An extract from the film is seen. Marwick contrasts the film's depiction of the working classes with that of earlier British films and with French films. A wedding scene from the 1966 film The Family Way is used by Marwick to show how British working class people are portrayed. He contrasts it with Chabrol's 1969 film Le Boucher, where a lower middle class wedding is portrayed. This is seen in a subtitled extract. An excerpt from Goddard's 1972 film Tout va bien is seen in which a strike is portrayed. Marwick's commentary emphasises the ritualistic manner in which the strike is handled. Over stills from all the films seen in the programme Marwick concludes by distinguishing between French and British attempts to depict post war cultural and social changes. He argues that the films do reflect reality.
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